I was childsitting over the weekend, and I usually spend an hour or two with the kids, making art. One of them decided to self-decorate her feet with my markers. Her “tatoos” were beautiful, reminding me of the henna tatoos that women draw on their hands and feet in areas of India, Pakistan, and North Africa, so we had a lively discussion about these beauty traditions and the various cultures that practice them. (See the Wikipedia article on henna dying)
Unfortunately she had grabbed a marker that leaves a fairly permanent mark, and afterwards we spent a half-hour in the bathroom, scrubbing away the damage. “I’m busted, ” she said. Still, it led to her making a wonderful little book on the subject, including two pop-ups: one of her feet and the other of her hands. Her older brother threatened to “bust her” by telling mom, but when mom came home, she was delighted with the book and thought my pictures of the foot drawings were wonderful.
My Sculptural Bookmaking class at the Corcoran College of Art + Design here in Washington, D.C., is in full swing, with nine students actively working on making pop-up accordion books this week. On Tuesday we covered cut-and-fold pop-up forms with extensions, along with spiral and straddle pop-ups. I also showed a slide presentation on the history of movable books. I’ll be keeping the blog up-to-date with the students’ ongoing projects.
This week I’m teaching a sculptural bookmaking class for the North Country Studio Workshops at Bennington College in Vermont. Despite the cold temperatures dipping below zero in the evenings, the studios are warm and welcoming. I have eleven industrious students who are working on their carousel books at the moment.
Bennington is a beautiful campus with a mix of traditional New England architecture and some strikingly modern buildings. We are enjoying sumptuous meals of freshly prepared vegetables, main courses, and too-tempting desserts. And the dormatories where we’re housed are light-filled and very comfortable.
Aside from my book class, there are classes running in drawing, metals, sculpture, ceramics, fabric arts, surface design, quilting, basketry and photography. Yoga flow classes led by Tracy Penfield are held morning and afternoon before and after classes. All this makes for a great creative environment with a lot of positive exchange between the participants. The volunteers for North Country Studios who work so hard over a two-year period to make this biennial event possible are to be heartily commended.
This past Friday and Saturday I was in Philadelphia for a bit of fun. I stayed with my friend, printmaker Patty Smith, who escorted me around town to some wonderful art events. Friday night we attended the opening for the show “14 For 7″ at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, with 14 works representing 7 decades of William Daley’s incredibly large hand-built ceramic vessels.
We also stopped by The Print Center to view “Canicular,” a group of commissioned works by Demetrius Oliver revolving around celestial themes. The show is only open on clear evenings because one of the pieces includes a live-feed projection of the star Sirius, and the remote telescope can only pick up the image on cloudless nights.
One of my main reasons for traveling to Phillie was to get some critical feedback from Patty and another friend, Jude Robison, on my new book, Land Forms and Air Currents, so after the Daley show we all met at the Shambala Center where Jude is an active member. Patty and Jude each gave me some great suggestions on how to refine the working dummie. More work ahead, especially on the text, but it’s work that I thoroughly enjoy.
Before leaving Saturday, Patty and I saw yet another exhibit at the Fabric Workshop and Museum. Currently on view are Sarah Sze’s large-scale installation pieces. Our favorite piece was on the second floor, composed of large faux-rocks fabricated of printed tyveck stretched over foam or chicken-wire armatures. Photographic images of lichen, moss and various stone patterns and textures make the sculptures look very convincing, while at the same time viewers realize the pieces must be light-weight in comparison to the rocks they represent.
We finished off the day with a turkey plate at the Reading Market before I headed back to Washington, D.C. on the Megabus.
A small but impressive exhibition of origami sculptures is currently on display at the Japanese Information and Cultural Center in Washington, D.C. This past Tuesday I attended the opening lecture and demonstration by two well-known origami artists, Michael LaFosse and Richard Alexander. Both men have extensive experience in this Japanese art form, and have published numerous books on the subject.
The lecture highlighted origami history and some exceptional examples of contemporary pieces. Afterward, we were treated to a lunch of sushi rolls, and participated in hands-on demonstrations by both gentlemen, making an origami border collie and an origami butterfly.
This year, the Guild of Bookworkers Standards Conference was held in Washington, D.C., so all of my bookmaking friends were in town. Dominic Riley and Michael Burke came two days early and stayed with us in Glen Echo. (Yes, we’re a little out of focus after several glasses of wine.) We spent Thursday afternoon visiting museums, and on Saturday I did a little shopping at the vendors’ market, buying one of Shanna Leno’s beautiful leather book weights.
Saturday evening, Dominic and Michael had me as their guest at the Guilds’ banquet and auction. Terry Belanger, founder of the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School, received the Guild’s distinguished member award. Also shown is Jana Dambrosio, a former student in one of my workshops, with her mini pop-up Washington monument. The auction was a big success, and everyone is looking forward to next year’s conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.